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First Page: Unnamed Urban Fantasy

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Readers, though, the way that I look at it is this: Would the hook itself interest you in reading the book. If yes, what interests you and if not, what would you change to make it more appealing?

***

When Asa sidled into my office with that pinched expression on his face, I didn’t bother looking up from my laptop. "No."

"C’mon, Cyn. You don’t even know what I’m asking yet."

"Yes, I do." I stabbed a few keys and stopped the playback on a full view of last night’s scene-’not as gruesome as it could have been, but the lack of gore didn’t make the victim any less dead. "You want me to translate. And I’m busy."

Asa sighed. He ambled over, stopped in front of my desk and fingered the leaves of my dwarf Chinese evergreen. "Don’t you ever water this thing?"

"It’s supposed to droop," I snapped. Behind me, the photo printer whirred and fluttered out a copy of the frame I’d frozen. I pushed my chair back and tapped the edge of my desk a few times. Ragged fingernails. I was half tempted to polish them, but I’d lost my last bottle and couldn’t be bothered looking for it. "Look, Asa, I’m sorry. I had a long night and a crazy morning, and Homicide needs this stuff before lunch. Whatever they want, it can wait-’or you can get Loopy to muddle through it."

Asa grimaced when I tossed out Lupe Renaldo’s rather apt handle. "The chief wants you on this. It’s more than just a translation. We need a little more tact than Loopy . . . er, Renaldo can manage. Kind of a diplomatic mission."

I shook my head. "I’m not a diplomat. I’m not even a cop, remember? I just take the pictures around here."

At least, that’s what I was supposed to do. Police videographers generally weren’t required to assist with investigations or help interview subjects. Unfortunately, my unique and unwanted language ability demanded my occasional participation.

Lately, the demand had been far more occasional than I liked. They’d gotten bolder with the new integration laws. More interaction with society on their part, and no change in their general disinterest in learning our tongue. This, of course, surprised no one.

I stood and made for the printer, my back to him, telling myself to stand firm on this. I didn’t like the term "mission." Translating was bad enough.

Asa cleared his throat. "It pays double time."

"I’m not for sale."

"I’ll owe you one."

"You already owe me fifty."

"Cynara . . . the Family’s involved."

I froze. "I’m so not hearing this."

"Well, you have to." A hand touched my shoulder, and I flinched hard. "We need you. You’re the only one they trust."

"I wouldn’t exactly call it trust," I murmured. Lead settled in the pit of my stomach and crept up my throat. The Family. Just beautiful. "All right, I’ll think about it. What’s this mission of yours?"

He didn’t say anything.

I turned slowly. "Asa?"

His lips compressed, and he muttered something completely unintelligible.

"Will you just spit it out?"

Asa stared at his shoes, like he hoped they’d carry him somewhere far away. "Escorting the princess."

***

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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

50 Comments

  1. Ann Somerville
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 05:05:48

    Well we definitely know he’s talking to someone called Asa because the name is repeated about fifty times more than it needs to be. If there are two people talking, you don’t need to name the other person, either in prose or dialogue, more than a couple of times.

    “Asa sighed. He ambled over” – the second avoidance of ‘walked’ used in short order. That kind of thing can be wearing, so don’t overuse it.

    “A hand touched my shoulder, and I flinched hard.” Disembodied body parts – avoid. Since the hand has to belong to Definitely Called Asa, just say ‘his hand’.

    But other than these nits, I am already interested. A lot of readers dislike first person, but I don’t. It’s hard to judge from this excerpt but I love cop stories, so I’d keep reading, definitely. So long as the author didn’t use the name ‘Asa’ again in the next ten pages. :)

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  2. msaggie
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 05:38:30

    I think this is the first among the Saturday queries that has really grabbed me. It’s got an immediacy that suits an urban fantasy. I didn’t mind the “too many Asas” that Ann Somerville commented on – I think it’s part of the writer’s style. Good luck!

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  3. Jia
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 05:56:36

    I liked this. It’s very readable, immediately hooks my interest, and raises some questions that make me want to continue so I can learn the answers. The voice is good and it sounds different enough from other UF to keep me hopeful.

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  4. Erastes
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 06:02:13

    I agree that there could be less Asa’s. Generally try and avoid putting the person’s name at the top of the sentence:

    Asa sidled
    Asa sighed
    Asa grimaced
    Asa cleared his throat.
    Asa stared

    I’m assuming already that Lupe is a werewolf, and that’s pretty cliched, but I could be wrong.

    Other than that – I think it’s a good start and it catches the reader’s eye. Good work.

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  5. Courtney Milan
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 06:53:31

    I really like this–definitely one of my favorites so far. My only suggestion is that I get very little sense of our first person narrator–almost no emotion, or internal thought, which surprises me as first person narrators are usually pretty deep in the POV. We don’t even get the gender or the species of the protagonist. The end result is that even though the story set up is awesome and makes me want to read on, I kind of feel as if this awesome story is happening to a disembodied protagonist.

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  6. Leslee
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 07:21:55

    I agree with Courtney, this is one of the best so far. I also don’t have much of a sense of the first person narrator. We know the name is Cyn and by the spelling, I assume it is a she. I would like to see more of this, it is a refreshing slant on urban fantasy.

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  7. DS
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 07:56:59

    I assume the narrator is female– “I have been faithful to thee Cynara! In my own fashion.” Ernest Dowson.

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  8. Gina
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 08:05:54

    When Asa sidled into my office with that pinched expression on his face, I didn't bother looking up from my laptop. “No.”

    You lost me at this first line. If the narrator doesn’t look up from the laptop, they can’t see Asa’s pinched expression on his face.

    I did keep reading, but the awkwardness of that line kept me at a distance from the rest of the material.

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  9. Sarabeth
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 08:45:00

    I agree with Gina about the first line, but I did read on from that. The first line needs more punch, something more to grab the reader. Tighten up the number of times Asa’s name is used, though. That was distacting.

    Overall, this first page wants me to see what happens, and that is very important.

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  10. Gennita Low
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 08:49:58

    Quick, I need page two! ;-)

    Good strong beginning hook. Perhaps just a bit more deep POV about “integration.” Even one line explaining what it is will give the reader (and editor) an immediate understanding what this story’s about.

    There are many nice details that showed character–the chipped fingernails, the plant, certain use of words. I also liked this:

    Asa stared at his shoes, like he hoped they'd carry him somewhere far away.

    Nicely done! Good luck!

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  11. Lori
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 08:57:55

    I can’t add more to anything that’s been said except I was hooked immediately and wanted to keep reading. I like first person POV, I like Urban Fantasy and I’d probably buy this and read it in a sitting, it’s my kind of book.

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  12. Janicu
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 09:03:06

    I would keep reading. I also like first person so that didn’t bother me – and the too many Asas – I didn’t notice it until someone pointed it out.

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  13. she-who-wrote-this-page
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 10:05:22

    *wonders if it’s proper decorum to comment . . .*

    Yay! Thank you, everyone, for your comments and insights. I really appreciate the feedback. I never noticed the too-many-Asas either *blushes*

    I’m so thrilled this was generally well-received, and thankful for the suggestions that will help me improve it. I’ve been in a bit of a writing slump lately <–understatement! … so your taking the time to read and comment here is really helping me.

    Thank you for the opportunity, Jane. Much obliged!

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  14. MS Jones
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 10:06:28

    It’s well written, although Gina’s got a good point about the first line/paragraph. Here’s some suggestions:

    …I didn't bother waiting for the inevitable question.

    …I didn’t stop working on the murder tape.

    …I glanced at him and answered before he could ask.

    Anyway, I’d keep reading and I ususally don’t care for first person POV stories.

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  15. Shannon Stacey
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 10:06:51

    I’d fix that first sentence, like Gina said, and replace some of the Asas, but I was hooked, and I don’t even particularly care for first-person Urban Fantasy. Sounds interesting!

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  16. Tori
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 10:10:55

    I really like this. It has enough snap to hook me into wanting to read the next page. I like the fact that there’s more dialogue than description…I think sometimes authors try to show you too much too soon. That being said, I agree with Courtney-I didn’t get much of a sense of the main character (it is a guy, right?)but I figure I’ll find out on the next page.

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  17. Jessica Barksdale Inclan
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 10:11:29

    I didn’t notice the first line because I was worried about what Asa was worried about, but logistically, yes, that doesn’t make too much sense.

    However, what I loved about your first page is that it moved. It was a scene! It had an event and an emtotion, and it was bringing us toward more, creating tension about The Family and integration, and all the urban fantasy stuff we are going to learn about.

    So yes, clear up the pinchiness and the Asa’s and I think you’ve got a great start.

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  18. raine
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 10:31:51

    I’d agree with what Shannon said.
    Other than that, yeah, it made me want to read more. Good beginning.
    Clear, strong voice. I like it.

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  19. Deirdre
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 10:39:25

    I finished reading this and wanted more! Some of the points made were very valid but I still wanted more story. The hooks were good, teasing without leaving everything to the audience’s imagination.

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  20. Leah
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 10:48:08

    Love it, love it, love it! I guess they’re right about the first line, but I didn’t notice it. I liked the dialogue, the familiarity between the two, and I also love police stories. This really is a great first page! Let us know how your publication quest goes!

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  21. Karen Templeton
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 10:48:10

    I was hooked immediately. Which almost never happens these days. So you should feel honored. (big grin here)

    Didn’t notice the first sentence goof or the plethora of Asas because the nasty little evil editor that lives in my brain apparently isn’t awake yet, but probably would have on a second read. Those are nits, though.

    I love first person, when done well — and this is done very well, IMO. Excellent pacing, and yet you managed to work in enough details to give the reader a good sense of Cyn’s character right out of the gate(and I automatically assumed she was a woman, but that could be too many years of reading chick lit ;-)).

    From my standpoint, a first page is the place to set up questions to be answered later, rather than cram in more answers than the reader needs at the moment. Maybe because I’m *not* an urban fantasy reader, my reaction was “Okay, alternate universe, let’s wait and see what happens”, so lack of explanation of terms, etc., didn’t bother me at all. For me, tone, character and voice are far more important first-page goals, and I think you did an excellent job with those.

    Not an urban fantasy gal, but since I read far more for voice than subject matter, I’d definitely keep reading this! Good job.

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  22. Tracey
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 11:05:31

    It reads like imitation Laurell K. Hamilton.

    You have a cop, a tougher-than-tough female lead, and a suggestion of problems/supernatural threats that only the tough female lead can handle. (I’m guessing that this is going to be about werewolves, or at least were-beings–the female lead’s name is “Cyn,” which I suppose is short for Cynthia [goddess of the moon] and though “Lupe” is a Hispanic girl’s name, it reminds me of both Remus Lupin and “lupine.”)

    Also, Loopy Lupe made me think of Loony Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter series. It’s not the kind of nickname I’d expect an adult to give another.

    It is well-written. The scene moves along at a good pace. I have a sense of the characters’ personalities. Do what the others said and you should be okay. This is the kind of thing that’s selling in paranormals these days.

    I just have the feeling that I’ve read this same story a few hundred times already, that’s all.

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  23. vanessa jaye
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 11:06:09

    Nitpicks aside, they didn’t stop me from reading, or wanting to read more. I think you’ve got a winner here. But, yes, the first line needs tweaking, the Name use needs to be trimmed, and you definitely should deepen the pov. Absolutely one of the strongest Saturday morning entries so far.

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  24. Marissa Scott
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 11:13:36

    I’m with the consensus with the first line and “Asas” but I have to say that this definitely hooked me. I want to read more right now! Very nice job and so far, to me, the best I’ve read in the Saturday morning entries.

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  25. JulieLeto
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 11:15:28

    Just wanted to add that I, too, was intrigued and would have kept reading. The voice is fresh and the pacing is fabulous. Keep it moving! That’s the sort of thing that hooks me. Crisp writing and very little introspection. Emotion, clearly, but not overdone. Great job! BEST OF LUCK!

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  26. vanessa jaye
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 11:20:36

    Meant to edit my previous post then my son interrupted me, but wanted to agree with Leah & Karen, I read straight through without noticing the Asa thing. The first line did make me stumble a bit, but think that might have been more about orienting myself to the scene than a question of logic.

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  27. Bev Stephans
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 11:37:10

    As a reader, it had me hooked and wanting more. Good work!

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  28. Janine
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 12:00:51

    I agree with what everyone has said. I didn’t notice the first line or the Asa’s until they were pointed out, but I do agree with these comments. It would be good to have more sense of Cyn as well. But on the whole, I think it’s a great first page entry, and none of the nitpicks would stop me from reading more.

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  29. JaimeK
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 12:13:31

    Despite the little tweaks that need to happen – I will have to agree that this is the first Saturday Query that screamed at me “this has got to be written so it can be read!!” IMO this one pulls you in and makes you want to know more. I agree with Janine, none of the nitpicks would stop me from reading it either.

    I hope this one happens!

    By the way, what is it with 1st person reads?

    Peace.

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  30. Kristie(J)
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 12:34:50

    Agree with most everyone – this one had me hooked from the beginning and I didn’t notice the first line glitch either till it was pointed out.

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  31. Li
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 12:36:49

    This is the first First Page / Query Saturday post that I’ve wanted to comment on, because I really want to know what happens next. As an urban fantasy reader, this would definitely get my attention!

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  32. Val Kovalin
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 13:43:29

    This is a fun, intriguing first page! Here’s what I assumed from this. Setting is big city with modern technology (you mention police chief and homicide department, and the protagonist is working with modern computer equipment).

    Protagonist is definitely a woman: with a name like Cynara and her fingernail polish. But she’s also overworked and stressed out (ragged fingernails, lost her last bottle of polish and can’t be bothered to look for it). She’s a blunt, impatient type (see how she treats Asa).

    She’s got an intriguing job: videographer. Nice! I’ve never read a story about a videographer before. So she has an insider look at the cop workplace but she’s not really one of them. You can do a lot with this. She also has this translation ability that we’ll probably hear more about on the next few pages.

    The Family makes me think of organized crime and also nobility. Of course the Family can be both. The nobility aspect is reinforced by mentioning the princess. Readers of urban fantasy might be assuming that the Family is a powerful vampire clan at this point.

    Also intriguing is the fact that the police department thinks that Cyn is the only one that the Family trusts, but she herself seems to know better. The relationship is actually more complicated than trust. You haven’t spelled it out here, but you’ve raised the question which makes us want to read on.
    The only change I’d suggest centers on your part that reads ” Lately, the demand had been far more occasional than I liked. They'd gotten bolder with the new integration laws. More interaction with society on their part, and no change in their general disinterest in learning our tongue. This, of course, surprised no one.
    I drew a blank when I read those lines – I felt like I wasn’t quite receiving the information that these lines were supposed to convey. This section didn’t tell me nearly as much as the rest of your prose, and raised some contradictions for me: the demand [for translation] is more occasional than Cyn likes, yet she’s very unwilling to take this mission with the Family? They [and I think it would help if you named them here - the vampires or whoever ] are interacting more with society but refusing to learn the language?

    How can they interact if they won’t learn the language or accept translation services? On the other hand, if they were preying on society rather than trying to interact, then the need to communicate wouldn’t be there. Is the fact that the integration laws are NEW important right now? Maybe this whole part should be moved further in your story and explored more in depth there, and you could keep this first page just focused on the fact that she’s sometimes asked to translate, and she’s unwilling to do this particular mission with the Family.

    By the way, I like how nervous Asa gets when he mentions the princess. She sounds like someone to fear, which is a great way to throw off the usual princess cliché.

    I had no trouble with the number of times Asa’s name is mentioned, nor did I think Lupe was a werewolf (it’s only a name, a common Hispanic name). Definitely fix that first line as Gina suggested: Cyn can’t see Asa’s pinched look if she doesn’t look up (even if he always sidles in with a pinched look and she’s assuming from past experience).

    Great job with this! I’d definitely read it.

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  33. Seressia
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 13:44:20

    I really like this. Yes, the first line did get me, and so did all the Asa’s. Those are very fixable things, so please look through your manuscript for those. I didn’t get that Lupe is a werewolf (hope she’s not) I just got that she’s a Latina translator. I would like to get a bit more sense of Cyn’s thoughts, but this is a great first page.

    For me, if someone compared my manuscript to the first few LKH’s, I wouldn’t complain. ;-)

    I sincerely hope you’re finishing up this manuscript and thinking about entering it into contests and such. Great job!

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  34. Carolyn
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 13:54:47

    The first line pulled me right in. I never noticed the discrepancy or all the Asas until they were pointed out. The dialogue was crisp and believable; I think realistic dialogue can be the hardest to write.

    I definitely want to read more. I wouldn’t expect all the characterization and answers to be on the first page, so I’m ready for the second. ;-)

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  35. Cathy
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 14:28:11

    I’m definitely interested enough to keep reading at least the rest of the chapter. For me, the biggest draw is finding out what kind of translation skills Cyn is offering, since I’m guessing that it’s not something standard like Spanish.

    I’m looking forward to having the chance to read more soon. :)

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  36. Ann Somerville
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 15:05:12

    Tracey, hard to imagine I know, but there are people who’ve never read any of the Harry Potter books. I’m one, I’m proud to say. ‘Loopy’ Lupe – if the person is nuts – sounds like a perfectly good nickname, and didn’t give me any werewolf vibes.

    Even if the plot is old, the story can been new and refreshing. I’ve just read one like that, and I honestly didn’t care the set up was one I’d read quite a bit of. Plots are less important than characters to me, and this first page gave me enough to make me think the author understands that.

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  37. JoB
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 15:17:27

    I’m going to be a contrarian here.

    I like what I see — Oh yes.

    But even more, I’d like to see the story begin in the midst of action instead of with a pair of talking heads.

    I’d like to start with a decision made or a goal attempted or a disaster faced. I’d like to walk into events that change the outcome of the story.

    This gives us a twofer — we get all the information exchanged here, but we do it while important events take hold and pull us through the story.

    That said, this is authorial choice. The writer here is obviously skilled enough that there’s doubtless good reason for this choice.

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  38. Leah
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 15:18:56

    Me again…. I don’t read urban fantasy, but even I knew enough to understand that the Family had to be something paranormal, that Cyn’s translation abilities weren’t, oh, Hmong, and that Integration meant integrating paranormal groups with human society. You write it in such a way that it’s fairly intuitive, IMHO. I assume that by the time they get to the first chapter, readers will have the background they need to understand the plot. I second Ann–there are only so many plots. I pretty much read the same mom-lit plots over and over–but I’m rarely bored, because a good writer can make yet another “I’m-fat-my-kids-drive-me-nuts-should-I-work-is-he-cheating” seem exciting. Your characters seemed like real people from the get-go. I could really see them, and that’s what made this first page stand out.

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  39. Jill Sorenson
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 16:25:38

    This is a minor quibble, but her reluctance to help/do the translation rubbed me the wrong way. I get the impression that the situation is dangerous and the Family is scary. But maybe I want a heroine who leaps into the fray, an active participant in her own adventure. Or maybe I just want a little more insight into her character, a tiny detail to explain her reasoning. She doesn’t seem timid. Is she jaded?

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  40. Diana Pharaoh Francis
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 16:25:54

    I started with an . . . ODG not another police urban fantasy! But by the time I got to the end, I was grabbed. I agree on the first line, perhaps too many Asa’s and facial expressions, though that didn’t immediately bother me. What did was the unexplained “they”s in paragraph 9. I think something slightly more concrete would be useful. Maybe the city, maybe the federal government . . . whatever, but that just felt confusing.

    I do like that she’s a photographer. A bit of a different take on her role in any given investigation.

    I hope the rest of the book does as well as the first page!

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  41. Moth
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 16:51:12

    This is definitely my favorite first page on query sat so far. It has voice. I feel like I got a sense of her character-the nail polish, the plant- nice subtle touches. The dialogue is good and the writing, aside from certain nitpicky problems was tight and well-done.

    I agreed with the above commenter who said they weren’t too thrilled with the talking heads, though. This doesn’t feel like an opening page. It feels more like what would come after the opening scene. I’m not an advocate of every book starting with an action scene but this just seems an odd place to start. I’m guessing your book- with the polie and fantasy elements- will probably have a fair amount of action scenes so maybe in this case a big bang would be the better place to start. That being said, I definitely would have kept reading after this first page, talking heads or not.

    Oh, and here’s my own nitpick: “the demand had been far more occasional than I liked” this reads to me like her translating services are being required less often, not more. Maybe I’m just missing something since no one else commented on this, though.

    Best of luck! You seem to be on the right track. :D

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  42. Kris Kennedy
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 18:23:37

    I loved this, and I am definitely a hard-sell for 1st person. It has to be great, or I keep noticing the 1st person-ness of it. But this totally pulled me in.

    I LOVE how you just dove into it. I didn’t need any more set-up than what you gave. I got it all. Nicely done!

    I see what others have mentioned about the repetition of Asa’s name, but it didn’t bother me. It was invisible to me, just kept me oriented.

    I personally don’t mind the POV inconsistencies very much (ex: how can she tell Asa has a pinched expression if she’s not looking at him), but that’s certainly just one opinion. It does drive some people nuts, so you may want to consider addressing it. (Just please don’t lose your voice ‘neaten-ing’ things up!!)

    I do see the point about reader distance from Cyn. I did not mind it here in the opening, but as time went on, I’d certainly want to feel like I was in her POV more deeply, at least with a line here or there to reveal her inner workings.

    Well-done!

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  43. Kat
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 19:00:52

    I really like it, and I’m usually cranky about first pages. I did notice the first line discrepancy. Didn’t notice the overuse of “Asa”, and that’s usually one of my pet peeves, so it worked for me. I like that it doesn’t have too many insights into her thoughts or motivations. It’s only the first page, after all. I don’t really care about her motivations at this point. I like that the prose is lean without being brusque. And I like that the author is subtle, raising questions without falling into the temptation of answering them straight away. The last line is slightly anticlimactic for me, though. Not really sure why I should care about the princess. Maybe a quick internal reaction from the narrator would do it (e.g. “Oh, crap.”). But overall, since this is the first time I’ve wanted to comment on a First Page post, I’d say it definitely hooked me in.

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  44. KB
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 20:22:20

    This was great, I really enjoyed it and wanted to see more. It is so interesting to me how we all read it a little bit differently. I did not notice the problem with the first line, or the repetition of Asa’s name. I read Lupe to be a latina, not a werewolf.

    The only part that threw me out and made me go back and re-read, like Val and Diana, was the 9th paragraph. I kept trying to get it to make more sense, and even though I knew it would become clear later, it annoyed me. Also, as Moth pointed out, I assumed that “far more occasional” was not really what you meant to say.

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  45. she-who-wrote-this (again)
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 23:56:30

    Wow – thank you, everyone, for the wonderful comments! I’m so happy that so many seem to like this first page. Absolutely thrilled, really. And the nits help a lot!

    LOL I assure you, there is nary a werewolf to be found in this story. Nor is there a vampire. The Family is Fae (fairies, but not the little cute winged kind – the tall, preternaturally beautiful and rather predatory kind). :-)

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  46. Melissa
    Jul 27, 2008 @ 01:39:29

    I agree with Tracey, I immediately saw a similarity to the Anita Blake series (early Anita Blake that is) but I definitely liked it and I would love to read more. Good luck getting published.

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  47. Tae
    Jul 27, 2008 @ 09:17:05

    This is the first first page that I’ve read. I’ve looked over everyone’s comments and I agree with one of the Lauras that a lot of information is hidden in the text. Maybe I’ve just read a lot of paranormals. I’m intrigued. I’m guessing Cyn is not human, hence the humans not learning “her” language.
    I was also thrown by the first sentence, but not enough to stop reading.
    I hope you’re far enough along with this novel that it may come out soon.

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  48. LizJ
    Jul 27, 2008 @ 19:34:05

    This might be the only “first page” that I’ve read all the way through. I liked the tone and the set up…but “the Family” and especially “the princess” bothered me — too stereotypical IMO. Especially “the princess.” My mind goes to Princess Bride, Princes Lea, etc. All in all, I would likely at least pick this book up at the bookstore and consider purchasing it.

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  49. Susan/DC
    Jul 27, 2008 @ 20:02:23

    Me too — this is the first of the Saturday submissions that I’ve found intriguing. It may resemble the early Anita Blake stories, but the author has her own voice, and that’s what counts. In a page she’s managed to establish three characters: Cyn, Asa, and even Lupe. Cyn is cranky, focused, and possessed of a special ability that she clearly views as more curse than blessing. The author has managed to show us these qualities in this brief conversation and so doesn’t have to tell us this about her protagonist. Good work.

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  50. Aaron Paul Lazar
    Jul 31, 2008 @ 19:31:42

    Although I must admit I am a die hard fan of this author’s previous work, the start of this new book captivated me. S.W.’s style has always been strong, well paced, and inevitably draws me in from the start. I don’t normally read urban fantasy, but I become quickly hooked to all S.W.’s stories. (I’m a mystery reader/writer)

    For the record, I didn’t notice the opening line, nor the excessive Asa use. The fingernail polish comment nailed Cyn’s gender. But I loved the mysteries that were offered – Who’s the Family? Why do they trust and want Cyn to translate? Who the hell is this dreaded Princess? Loved the interplay between Cyn and Asa. The dialog is natural and tight, as I’ve come to expect from this writer. And I must say – don’t be too jealous now – I got to read chapter two. ;o) It only gets better from here.

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